Thursday, August 30, 2007

Birthday at the Office

I celebrated my birthday at the office! It's almost a year now since I first came here...To all of my officemates who greeted and "partied" with me, my sincerest thanks! (Looks like they had more fun than I did!)

Looked outside the office window, it is raining again! It always rain on my brithday! :)

Mood: Happy-bee!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

(With my friendly officemate named Kattu, left side)

In a rare unguarded moment, the camera finally catches me smiling a wide happy grin. I will be celebrating my 28th bithday tomorrow! May my days be filled with moments like these--days full of laughter and good cheers!

Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blood Moon Rising

The blood moon rose over the Philippines last night. I wasn't able to catch it as the Manila sky was overcast. Glimpses of it appeared in the southern portion of the country though. Accordingly, the moon turns bloody red when it aligns with the Earth and the sun, a rare occurrence as the moon usually passes above or below the imaginary line connecting the earth and the sun. In fact, it was the first central total eclipse in seven years, as reported by the Discovery Channel.
I wonder what this rising blood moon will bring me.
Things always happen for a reason. There is no such thing as an accident. The entire universe's action is planned, purposeful. There is no random action, no meaningless motion. The earth, the moon and the sun's graceful and eternal movement are all timed by the One who guides us all. There is always a rhyme and reason for everything.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Sad Face of Poverty

(Note: Prompted by the degrading remarks issued by one Malu Fernandez to the OFW's in Dubai, I ask myself the hard question, "Am I 'matapobre' just like her? Am I doing something for the poor or just turning a blind eye to the sad faces I see everyday?")

Poverty is such a controversial topic for me. I feel obliged to help the poor and cannot turn down offers to buy a garland of sampaguita from occasional beggar child/woman peddlers. I am moved to help, to actually do something concrete like help build a home for the Gawad Kalinga program, but just like the rest, am immobilized by the immensity of the task and end up doing nothing apart from watching all of those pro-poor programs granting them wishes that could turn their lives over. I am moved to tears each time I watch those TV networks giants provide their heart's content like the proverbial genie in a bottle. In the back of my head, I silently say to myself that I am doing my part by keeping the ratings up of those programs, and sitting comfortably in my chair smugly think that I have acted my part. Just like the rest of us, I am apathetic to the plight of our country's poorest of the poor. I wish I could do something but in actuality do nothing, apart from recognizing the situation and fruitlessly hoping it will go away in a couple of years time.

Meanwhile, I see poverty on a daily basis. I recognize it in the face of the hunchbacked old man I regularly sight on our streets pushing his cart full of potted flowers and plants. He navigates our streets by beating his old body to shove his heavy wooden cart unmindful of the harsh elements throughout the day. Each time I see him I am reminded of the old poem from highschool which I was forced to memorized, "stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?, Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?". (The snippet of the poem, you can read below.) To be a man and yet to live like a beast, this man's existence is reduced to a mockery, as he lives way far below the acceptable standard of human life. So I everytime I chance upon him, I offer him a wordless prayer that he may find happiness despite of his current situation. And I am sure somehow he is happy, because everyday he wakes up willing and ready to push and shove his cart in our busy streets, as I catch him steadily peddling his wares on an almost daily basis. To be poor and to be happy, that is the fate of most Filipinos. Remember Sisyphus, the man condemned by the Grecian gods to push his boulder to top of the mountain only to let it go and do it all over again once he reaches the summit? Albert Camus once said that Sisyphus is happy, contented with his senseless fate. If you imagine Sisyphus as happy, it not difficult to imagine the poor being happy.

I want to blame the poor for being poor. Sometimes, instead of feeling remorse and guilt, I feel nothing but hatred for them. I hate them for begging and using my acute sense of pity just so I would part my few inconsequential coins or be moved to buy whatever articles they are selling. I hate them for not being able to take care of themselves, for using their babies or somebody else's baby as a tool for further begging. I hate poverty and everything that it represents. I hate the helplessness of their situation, the mindlessness of it all, the quiet desperation and above all the silent acceptance of their fate. So they say, if you are born poor and die poor then it is your fault. Being born poor is never an excuse to being poor all of your life. Some people remain poor for the mere lack of trying.

I know I run the risk of being called judgmental for saying those things. I maybe scorned and be held in contempt for recklessly voicing my opinions out. But the thing is, I honestly want to do something about the problem of poverty in this country. I want to do my share in alleviating the plight of the poor not just in some fancy conceptual terms but in its actual and real sense. I never want to be 'matapobre.' Quite literally, the word means "eyeing the poor" from the root words mata and pobre. To be 'matapobre' is to judge the poor, to insult and to demean them for being poor. I guess that is the easier path, to simply sit in your lofty pedestal and to judge every single one of them for their erroneous and cheap choices. I will never be 'matapobre' in that sense of the word. I don't want to associate myself with the depravity that is poverty but I don't want to disassociate myself entirely with it either. I want to do my share, I want to help. But perhaps, it can only be done "one person at a time", just like our wise parish priest once said. He explains, "If the task of helping the poor is too great for you, too much for you, then perhaps you should do it one person at a time. Help one person at a time."

BOWED by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not, and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of eternity?
Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the caverns of Hell to their last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this--
More tounged with censure of the world's blind greed--
More filled with signs and portents for the soul--
More packed with danger to the universe.

Edwin Markham, The Man With a Hoe

Monday, August 20, 2007

Of Goldfishes, Cats and Memories

“At the end of the day, it is just less bad than you thought.”

Do you remember the old presumption that goldfishes have split-second memories? Well, it appears that that theory is incorrect. According to the all omniscicient Wikipedia, a research study shows "that goldfish have a memory-span of at least three months and can distinguish between different shapes, colours and sounds." Moreover, the study proves that goldfishes actually remember and recognize their owner's voice and learn to associate food to these humans which normally provide them their nourishment and thus behave in a sort of "begging" manner every time the owners come in proximity. Amazing, huh? Who would have thought that a bubblehead goldfish might have the same behaviorial characteristics akin to our beloved canine friends.

But guess what, if goldfishes apparently have a relatively long-term memory, which animal then has an amnesia-plagued life? You would never have guessed this, but it is our domesticated tabby friend, the cat.

Just recently, a "new study has measured just low long cats can remember certain kinds of information—10 minutes. " So for mere 10 minutes they could retain the memory of what they are doing but beyond that they forget. So if you hit/feed your cat right this moment, chances are, 10 minutes after, you can hit/feed it again and it wont have previous knowledge of your brutality/genorosity.

I wish I were forgetful. So I deliberately erase memories of past hurt, petty crimes and missteps that make me infallibly human. I wish I could undo certain events to make my life look more appealing, prettier and more engaging. I wish I could repaint the canvas and make it look more like a beautiful Renoir and not a dark van Gogh that it is. But memories are tricky by nature, the more you force yourself to forget, the more you actually remember. Like the time I wanted to forget what's-his-face home phone number so I won't feel the urge to suddenly give him a ring in one of my rather desperate moments. So everyday I try to forget, so much so that I could breathe his number in my dreams. Remember the famous line from Michael Ondaatje's lyrical novel that was also released as an Academy award-winning film, "The English Patient", (I read the book and watched the movie) the lead guy uttured, "I will forget about you everyday." Subliminally, what he was saying was that " I will always remember, I will never forget, I will always love you." Oh, for me that was the clincher, the line that made me cry buckets and rivers of tears. In that movie, this dramatic scene was punctuated by a comical relief when the girl inappropriately knocked herself in the head as she was saying her goodbye. I just didn't know what to make of the scene, I was crying and laughing at the same time.

Sometimes, life is just like that. You want to have a picture-perfect Kodak moment but it gives you something else, something regrettably unforgettable. So in the heat of the moment, you yearn to escape from the magnitude of your perceived idiosyncrasy and to forget it all, wash it away from your living memory. But you just can't. You remember. And after some time has passed, you realize it wasn't as bad as you first thought it was. So you laugh at your old silly self and wish to do it all over again ---to relive the moment you actually wanted to forget.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Raining Still

This is where I want to be at the moment. (Or for that matter, forever and a day, the only place to be.)

But this is where I am at today-- trapped in the eye of the storm. Its been raining unabatedly for almost a week now in the Metro. For three straight days in a row, classes in all levels were suspended. Schoolchildren would have rejoiced in the serendipitous turn of events if only they didn't have their periodical exams schedule. So the school deferment actually means longer study time which makes their instant vacation less appealing.

There's this running joke that the church will now stop praying for the rain to come as their prayers are rather too fervent. We are having three storms alternately. Well, at least we could all be certain that God is really out there listening.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I got this photo from this link I have no idea who the photoblogger is but his pictures there are all amazing. The first time I looked at this particular photo, I couldn't take my eyes off the little girl. This photo captured her soul and it spoke to me. I fell in love with her instantaneously. The idea that occurred to me at that moment was that if I had a blog I would definitely post her picture there. So I made a blog to honor her picture.

All I know about this angel is that she is Indian. Take note of the wafer bread she is holding, a definite staple in the Indian diet. But whatever dearth of basic information is more than made up by her soulful eyes. Her piercing gaze challenges us to look into her soul, to read and fathom its young life's content. They say that the eyes are windows to our soul and in this specific instance as immortalized by one man's photo, she tells us everything, her sad past, troubled present and uncertain future. She reveals to us all of her unadulterated soul's content.

I maybe have a similar childhood photo nakedly capturing the entirety of my life. That photo is still etched on my mind, in there I was holding my ragtag doll sheepishly looking in the camera that reflected my sad, lucent eyes. And just like this little angel, I was in an identical state of distress, my clothes, hair and appearance sullied by an afternoon's worth of an innocent child's play. My candid pose exposed the essential me. In contrast, my adult photographs never quite illuminate the real me anymore. Mostly, they look back at me with a diffident demure smile which unfortunately obscures the person beneath that unidimensional photo. The real me eludes the camera as my adult brain instructs me how to pose and smile in a manner that does not compromise the hidden me within. And so I am left with tasteless, unflattering photos that may look good on the exterior but soulless and cold in the interior. I know in my heart, I am not that person, but the real me is obscured by the artifical made-up conscious idea of myself. The real me is submerged, it cannot push itself into the light, but I know it is still there.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Cute Story (and the not so Cute One)

I just read this from PDI today.

"Iconic Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino was the picture of an amused child after an unusual experience Wednesday -- he had to get off a flood-stuck limousine and ride a pedicab to reach MalacaƱang and get his lifetime achievement award for film.

The pedicab ride drenched Tarantino’s pants and he had to change into black jogging pants with white trimming for the meeting with Ms Arroyo. He also shed off his sandals -- not allowed, under the MalacaƱang dress code -- for a pair of ill-fitting shoes that apparently gave him discomfort as he walked.

Over the jogging pants, he wore a barong."

Talk about a 360 degrees turn-around, from a shiny limousine to a lowly but reliable pedicab. That is third world country living for you. Good thing Tarantino has a healthy sense of humor. Otherwise, he would go home to Hollywood with one more horror story to share about some backward country in Southeast Asia.

Remember the Claire Danes incident decades ago, clamors were made for her to be branded as "person non grata". I believe the story went like this, she shot a film in some derelict warehouse in Cavite, which unfortunately was roach-infested and happened to see an amputee bystander watching their shooting. So upon going back to her surreal movie-world, she was quoted by a first-class glossy women's magazine saying as, "I had been to this cockroach-swarmed country which has grotesque people with no limbs." Please take note, that is not the exact quote, just a paraphrasing of the story that I more or less remember. You may opt to Google to get the accurate lines but I guess the crux of the matter remains the same. I recall my college friend laughing her head off as she informed me about the incident. She revealed that one kagawad of theirs told her of a hush-hush Hollywood movie shooting in their area involving Ms. Danes and that this same official actually had one arm amputated. She couldn't contain herself from laughing as she figured that perhaps he was the grotesque person that B-list actress was referring to.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blessed Dark Clouds

Dark clouds

Oratio Imperata ad Petendam Pluvium (Pleading the High Heavens for Rain)

15 August 2007

Angry rains are pelting hard in the metropolis this morning. I was lucky enough to hail a cab just before the downpour started. It saved me from one more excuse of arriving late in my humdrum office. Plus, it earned me one free Starbucks coffee from my estranged boss.

Prayers are answered quickly these days. Just yesterday, I noted that Catholic churches are pleading the heavens for rain and now here they come. Robust, they come tumbling down as requested by the faithful ready to replenish the diminishing water supply in the metro. Only problem is, the blessed rain inadvertently brings it with the accursed flood which jams traffic and creates a virtual hell for everyday office goers like me.

So when you wish for something and it is granted, you normally leap for joy and praise the Almighty for being such a good God to you. But somehow, my successful wish doesn't quite give me the satisfaction I'm looking for. In theory, I know that the desired rain will deliver its expected results and save this country from the dry spell it is in. I should be quite contented that it will serve as the stopgap solution to the perennial problem our government seemingly has no means of ending. Regardless though, lives will be lost, counted as mere statistics stripped of its inherent human, emotional value. Aptly, a Russian leader whose names escapes me at the moment thus said, "One death is a tragedy but more than that, it is mere statistics".

Take your pick then, the torrential rain or the parched hungry lands. It shouldn't be that hard.

14 August 2007

If you've heard mass these days, you should be quite familiar with the above mentioned term. Literally, it is a prayer for the rain to come. What is happening to the world? That we have to pray for the rain to come during the rainy season. Maybe I should have watched that sponsored global-warming flick at the MOA and listen to Michael Moore and Al Gore talk about an impending environmental disaster. Maybe it is true, that the end of the world is near. Even the Hindus believe that we are currenly living on the last cycle of the universe.

When I was in grade school, on sixth grade, my classmates and I pledged to meet again at year 2000. That year was the dreaded year back then, the year of the world's end. Seven years later, the end is nowhere near in sight. Yet, we have this. A world at wits end on how to explain sudden extreme weather changes. And no, global-warming doesn't quite fit as an explanation. The word sounds benign, so harmless. Not quite the natural disaster-racked world, this Earth has become. So when we begin to pray for rain and literally plead for the high heavens for it come when its suppose to be superfluous at this point, you suddenly begin to really wonder.

Soon, we should start teaching children to sing their nursery songs like this, "Rain, rain please don't go away..."

My Naughty Two Year Old Named JK

To the one who made me a mother, who made me realize that there is something more important in this world than "I." Happy 2nd bday my little princess. You are now the center of my universe. I love you. Truly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Lifetime

My past seems to be hounding me. I keep on stumbling with the people from my past. Those whom I have almost forgotten I have shared a life with. Life has a way of reminding you of what's really important. It keeps on returning to the pages who wish to always remember. Out of blue, an old college friend sends an email reminding me of our treasured dalliance of longtime ago. It just seems another lifetime ago. Suddenly, I remember that I miss her. The past, that was my previous regrettable present, now seems so magical, so alluring that I wish I could go back. Turn back the hands of time to once again feel every inch of pain, discomfort and giddiness of young adulthood. To think that I have always wanted to be in my future, which is now my present. Will I always live my life this? Wanting to live in the future and going back to the past but never ever enjoying the present that is NOW. Ironic is it, that only the now is the true measure of time. The now is the only thing that you can hold, the only time you can accomplish or be anything. I need to appreciate what the NOW represents. I need to live in the now and not in another lifetime.